Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, lied by denying that there were armed Nazis supporting the ouster of Ukraine’s “free and fairly elected” President Victor Yanukovych, in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee Thursday, despite repeated questions posed by Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA) about pictures of neo-Nazis armed with guns in the Maidan, and their affiliations with neo-Nazi groups in other countries.
The full committee hearing on the Ukraine crisis featured an opening statement by Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA), as Chair of its Subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia. Rohrbacher stated that the situation in Ukraine is “much murkier” than is being pretended. It is not simply a case of Russian aggression. Chaos began, said Rohrbacher, when the elected President of Ukraine (Yanukovych), who won an election — an election which observers from the OSCE declared “free and fair” — was forced out of office by street involvement. (emphasis in original). The problem started without any Russian involvement. It started when the Ukraine President decided to make an economic agreement with Russia, not the EU. It gets murkier. We should not be jumping into it.
Later, in his turn to question Nuland, Rohrbacher asked:
Rohrbacher: What will [intervening in Ukraine] cost the U.S., bottom line?
Nuland: $187m + $50m + $18m DOD budgeted for security services and border guards.
Rohrbacher: Did we guarantee any loans from the World Bank to Ukraine?
Nuland: $400m for Treasury of $1 billion from the IMF.
Rohrbacher: Do we have preferential payback?
Nuland: I don’t know; I’ll get back to you….
Rohrbacher: I think I know the answer.
We had a legitimate election before, but [the President] was removed. About the violence. There are pictures of neo-Nazis. Were the neo-Nazis involved in the street violence?
Nuland: The vast majority were peaceful protesters. We saw firebombs being thrown, and people people shooting into police ranks. All of these incidents are subject to investigation.
Rohrbacher: Guns were involved.
Nuland: As the demonstration became more violent both…
Rohrbacher: Was the neo-Nazi group affiliated with Nazi groups in other countries?
Nuland: I don’t know about the early period. Later, we see recruiting on neo-Nazi websites in Russia. We don’t have any information against neo-Nazi groups from Europe. There is no information to corroborate. Ukraine is investigating…
Victoria Nuland with leader of the Neo-Nazi Svoboda Part (left)
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) also pointed to the anti-Russian bias of U.S. foreign policy in the alternating cases of U.S. support at times, for territorial integrity, and at other times, independence, as shown in South Sudan, South Ossetia, Moldova, and other cases. “It seems haphazard,” Sherman said, but “Every decision we make is anti-Moscow.”
Sherman: Has the Right Sector militia been disarmed?
Nuland: Ukraine has made a massive effort—
Sherman: How successful has it been?
Nuland: There’s progress, but more to do.
Sherman: Kiev wants to repeal the Russian language law.
Nuland: Language rights will be protected.
Other useful questioning of Nuland occurred. Rep. Albio Sires (R-NJ) asked Nuland why, if the Russian people were impacted by the sanctions, “Putin is getting more popular.”
Nuland’s testimony made clear that the plan for the May 25 referendum is a large vote turnout, with thousands of observers, and she claimed that 39 million voters had been registered online, while the International Republican Institute is predicting 84% are likely to vote. (Note: Non-quotes are paraphrases.)